A few weeks ago I wrote about refusing to be grateful for deep, traumatic abuses in our lives. In that post I wrote that “forgiveness and acceptance are important.” I don’t dispute the importance of forgiveness, but just like with gratitude, the actual definition of forgiveness needs to be completely re-worked as it relates to trauma.
The more I work with beautiful people who are doing the hard, beautiful work of processing their pasts, it’s clear that our English language is clunky and crude when it comes to helping people navigate their complicated emotions. “Forgiveness” tends to bring to mind fluffy phrases like the following:
“Oh, it’s okay, it’s all okay.”
“I’m not that hurt, I’m fine.”
“I’m not angry at you anymore, I’ve let all my anger go.”
“You didn’t actually hurt me, I’m fine, it’s all good.”
“I love you and I’m grateful for you.”
“I was wrong to be so angry at you for hurting me, I’m sorry.”
“Wow, forgiving you makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside!”
Now, if someone backs into your car by accident in a parking lot, this works. If a cashier gives you the wrong change by accident, this works. But when it comes to people overcoming deep trauma, it certainly does not work. We need an entirely new vocabulary.
Deep forgiveness is an act of raw defiance. Deep forgiveness is the act of wresting your power back from someone. Deep forgiveness reclaims your energy and draws a distinct line in the sand.
The phrases of deep forgiveness (uttered internally or externally) are more like:
“You are a m——f——, an a——–, and a POS. What you did will never be okay. Yet despite that, I forgive you.”
“You no longer have power over me.”
“I’m still angry, but I’m releasing your hold on me.”
“I’m still angry, but I’m not allowing your energy to govern my life anymore.”
“I’m setting boundaries.”
“I’m a bigger person than you, destined for a bigger, richer life. I won’t let you weigh me down anymore.”
“I am making the decision to break the cycle of trauma rather than continue it.”
Now, for an abuser, someone whose primary modus operandi in life is/was to exert control and steal power from other people, hearing this is a very big FU! And it feels great!
And oh man, do the abusers hate it! This is because they feel a sense of loss. They’ve spent years building a power dynamic in which they can enjoy taking energy and power from others to make themselves feel strong, and then suddenly…. they can’t. They just can’t anymore. And this is true either in life or death. Even from the spirit realm, I have felt an abusive father try to reach out and wrestle power back from a son who had forgiven and released his abusive hold! Together the son and I were able to negate this petulant power grab and relegate his deceased father’s energy back to the spirit realm.
Deep forgiveness is powerful, meaningful, hard and beautiful work. And it is so worth it.
I often have conversations like this with my individual clients, but the idea as a whole has been feeling like it needs to be said to the wider world. Thank you for reading, and please share with anyone in your life whom you think could benefit from learning the raw power of deep forgiveness.